"I fell in love with a girl and everything fell apart then," says Justin, avoiding eye contact. His eyes speak of sadness and his voice of dejection. This is his third time being homeless. He also has been on federal assistance and has lived with an aunt. Justin grew up in Hillsborough and moved to Chapel Hill in 2008. He came to Chapel Hill because of the resources. "Free buses and I can do this here (he points to his cup and cardboard sign). The cops don't give me a hard time because they know I am not out here getting a drink." He says he'd really like a job as a dishwasher.
Toughest part about being homeless? "The rain. Though this time of year the rain does not last all day or all night like it does in the fall or winter."
On an average day, Justin says he usually accumulates enough money to buy a coffee at Starbucks, which also includes a chair and air conditioning. "I try to make the best of it and not be down on myself or miserable about it."
As we wrap up our conversation he pulls out a crinkled bag of wipes and begins to clean his hands and fingernails. "A lot of people do not understand and they are afraid of you....They'll be walking by and move away."
He watches me take notes and adds solemnly: "Make sure to write that part."
(photographs taken on Franklin between Henderson & Columbia)